Maximize the Hidden Storage Space in a Container and Save Money

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Shipping items to Jamaica can feel like a daunting task, especially when trying to save space in a container. There are so many different elements, including container sizes, types, uses, modes of shipping, and pallet selection what can determine the cost. Of course, you’ll want to maximize the space in your container and make sure you are getting the best return on investment. Effective planning and the right organization are key elements in a cost-effective shipping strategy. The question is: How do you cut shipping costs and maximize the space in your container? Have a look at our tips below, where we focus on 20-foot and 40-foot containers.

The main concern of most people who get in touch with us comes down to weight. “Will I get charged extra if I add X item in my container?” or “My items weight X kilograms. Can I ship it?”

The surprising truth is that weight doesn’t matter. Whether you’re using a 40-foot container OR A 20-foot one, the same pricing rate will apply. So what are you charged for then? Volume. To simplify it, Space.

To save money and ship the most possible products, you need to focus on space utilization. In a few words, placing as many items to fill up the space of the container to its full potential. Weight shouldn’t be your concern and extra charges do not apply. 

Bear in mind that a 20-foot container can accommodate up to 25 cubic meters, while a 40-foot container can hold anywhere between 55 and 60 cubic meters.

How we calculate and charge the volume

The formula we're using for calculating the volume is Height x Width x Depth = Volume.

Shipping Cost = Volume x Shipping Rate (per cubic meter).

To measure your items accurately use a tape measure.

A very common question we get is "What if I mix up width or depth and I measure them wrong?".

Sometimes, it can get confusing. But here is the good news. It really doesn't matter. 

Whether you confuse depth for width or width for height, the final calculation cost will be the same.

Tape measure for items shipped to Jamaica


How to measure items for cargo container shipping

What is Flat Pack Furniture and why should you prefer it over others? 

Flat packs are ready-to-assemble furniture or else self-assembly furniture which are produced in flat parts and can be assembled when purchased with minimal effort and without the need for special tools, at least in most cases. They’re packed in flat-packed boxes, at the time, separately, with all the necessary bolts and nuts for their assembly and with an instruction manual. 

Based on the type of furniture, the components to assemble could be anywhere from 5 to 50. 

IKEA is quite popular for its flat-pack retailed and flat-pack furniture delivery. 

When shipping your furniture overseas, and planning to purchase furniture, we highly recommend going with the flat-pack version of them. Despite being affordable, it will save you plenty of space in the container and allow you to ship more items, saving on your total costs.

Flat Pack Furniture suitable for shipping overseas to Jamaica

Utilizing hidden space gaps to save space in a container

We’ve come across the same scenario numerous times. Customers shipping sofas, chairs, desks, tables, and other items that are not dismantled but yet again they have plenty of “empty space” in-between when wrapped and it is not utilized to its full potential.

Then, they try to reposition items, stack them in a different way, trying to release space to fit everything. While those adjustments can work, we believe you can create the same effect with just a few small changes.


Let’s have a look at the images below:



Measuring your vehicle before shipping to Jamaica
Measuring your vehicle before shipping to Jamaica
Measuring your vehicle before shipping to Jamaica
Measuring your vehicle before shipping to Jamaica
Available storage space when shipping sofas
Utilizing empty space when wrapping sofas and furniture to ship in containers

After removing the pillows from this sofa, there is plenty of space on it to attach other small packages or items, before shipping it to Jamaica. How about putting some stuff in boxes and attach them on top of it? So many alternatives to experiment with.  

The same applies to furniture like desks, chairs, beds, and sofas. 

Ideally, there is to be no empty space left in the container by the time you’ve loaded all your stuff. Of course, it's impossible to reach its full capacity but keeping those standards in mind will help you maximize the space you got. 

You don’t necessarily have to fill the empty space in your container exclusively with freight. You can add dunnage, matting, wood, or other material that can fill small spaces between cracks and crevices, minimize the shifting of contents, and absorb movement/shock.

Securing items before shipping

It’s very important to secure the items placed within, below, or above your furniture/other items in the best possible way. If an item cannot be secured with dunnage, you need to find alternative methods that prevent its movement like lashing with anchoring, blocking, or tie-downs. It’s very important to take every measure needed to prevent the contents from moving during shipping, as much as possible. 

The shifting or tiling of freight, along with any lateral or longitudinal movement can not only put your container items in danger but also the people who interact with your container.

Preparing your items for the container

Before Caribshipping arrives to load and transport your items onto the cargo, you need to make sure you package it properly.

1 - Use only new boxes for packing. Household items like books can work well with a cardboard book carton, whereas for kitchen appliances and bedding you’ll need line cartons. 

2 - Use bubble wrap or even linens to cushion fragile items like photo frames etc.

3 - Make sure all items are well secured in their boxes and use strong adhesive tape to close them. Label each box with a number and its contents. Ex. Bathroom supplies, box 3 of 10. Keep a record of your items and box numbers. If anything gets lost or damaged, it will save you tons of time and money. 

4 - Couches, sofas, and recliners require a stretch wrap to protect them from damage and dust. For other fine furniture, you can use furniture pads and let them down a long furniture pad inside the container.

Wrapping up household items and fine furniture to ship to Jamaica in cargo and container
Wrapping up household items for shipping overseas to Jamaica from the UK

How to disassemble your furniture (if needed)

Let’s go through the most common furniture getting shipped which can be transformed to save additional space. 

Disassembling a sofa to save storage in a container

If you’re shipping your sofa, the first thing you need to do is try to remove its legs if possible. Essential when it comes to moving the furniture around, it’ll save you some time, effort, and scratches when trying to get it through doorways. Take off all the cushions and covers and pack them along with the legs on a separate box. 

Then you have two options: Either disassemble them or ship them as they are.

When shipping them as they are, you can use our guide above to save space by adding other items in the white space created when packing them.

If you want to proceed further and disassemble everything, begin with the frame. Turn the sofa on its back and use a Flathead screwdriver to remove the staples at the base. This will allow you to take off the upholstery, or at least, roll it back. Then, remove the bolts and screws that hold the arms. Remove the seat and the back of the sofa using a screwdriver or an Allen wrench. 

In the end, you’ll be left with pieces of wooden frames and screws and a pile of upholstery. A dismantled sofa is still prone to damage, so make sure everything is wrapped thoroughly and safely. If you’ll be the one who will reassemble the sofa, or a person who is not familiar with the process, make sure you take photos when disassembling so you can put back everything when your sofa arrives at its new home. 

Disassembling furniture when they arrive to Jamaica
Disassembling furniture when shipping them to Jamaica

Disassembling a desk chair to save storage in a container

Desk Chairs are quite easy to disassemble and reassemble. If you want to ship your desk as it is, then we won’t discourage you. It will save you time, and you can put extra boxes on top of it to fill the empty space.

In case you decide otherwise, start by removing the wheels (if any). After, there should be a knob on the bottom of the seat which needs to be loose enough to remove the seat, so turn it around until it’s removed. The same applies to the back of the chair. You’ll be left with just the chair’s main structure. Use bubble wrap to cover each part and box all of it up. If this approach doesn’t work, refer to the instruction manual that came with the desk/table.

Disassembling a desk/table to save storage in a container

Desks and tables can get shipped as they are and you can fit plenty of boxes or other items under them, saving time and effort.

Turning the table upside down and removing its legs, it will be an easy task to unscrew it but it might take a bit of elbow grease to get it done. Some table legs are attached with a “leg assembly”, a combination of braces and screws which can be detached with a screwdriver. 

Wrap the legs in a combination of bubble wrap and cardboard. Use a few sheets of corrugated cardboard and a thick blanket to protect the table. 

How will you package your goods?

To maximize your container’s space you need to determine your product's packaging before shipping. Loose cargo or palletized goods

The key is to choose the right pallet, thus reducing transportation costs, and handling your goods in an efficient way from the starting point to reaching the Jamaican wharf.  

Palletized Goods 

Select your pallets based on type and size. The most commonly used pallet types are Euro and Standard pallets. 

Standard Pallet

A standard pallet is larger than a euro one, reaching from 1 meter up to 1.2 meters, and comes in different sizes, full, half, and quarter. The ISO (International Organization for Standardisation approves up to six pallet dimensions, as detailed in ISO 6780.

Euro Pallets

A Euro pallet is about .8 by 1.2 meters and is used in many different industries. They’re not the best option for ISO shipping containers and for this type of pallet you’ll need slightly wider containers. The European Pallet Association (EPAL) is the one responsible for the pallet manufacturing regulations and construction materials. EPAL must authorize all manufacturers of EURO pallets.


Loose Cargo

Loose Cargo requires palletization. This way, you’ll keep your cargo safe and secure during transit. Your carrier has the right to deny your shipment if your product is not palletized and thus, at risk of getting damaged during transit, loading, or unloading. If you’re not familiar with the process, you can always rely on Caribshipping to take care of this part.

Cargo shipping in a container to Jamaica, types of cargo
Shipping containers to Jamaica

How Many Pallets Fit in a Container? 

The pallet type, how you arrange them, and the size of the container you’re loading will determine the number of them that can fit in a single container. 

Standard Pallets

A 20-foot container can take up to 9 or 10 on one tier, depending on how they are arranged, whereas a 40-foot container can take up to 20 or 21 pallets in one-tier. 

Euro Pallets

A 20-foot container can handle up to 11 pallets on one tier, and a 40-foot container can load 23 to 24, but it’s all about how they’re arranged. 

Container sizes and capacity shipping to Jamaica from the UK
Find the right container size for your needs